1. What Do You Want to Use Your Computers For?
This is the critical question. If you just want to do some simple word processing or spreadsheet work and manage your e-mails then a netbook costing from $200 may be perfect for you.
But if you’re want to watch online videos, listen to your music, edit your photos, play games and view DVD’s then you’ll probably need a laptop.
If like me, you multi-task and open several applications at once, like playing music, surfing the web, checking e-mails and working on a document, you’ll need plenty of memory. More memory means your notebook will perform better. Ideally you need 2GB of RAM (memory). If you’ll use Windows Vista, think about 3GB
3. Fast or Slow?
A processor (CPU) is the part of a computer that runs applications (software), on-screen tasks and processes data. If speed is important to you, you’ll need to invest in a good processor. Dual-core processors perform much faster than single-core processors, especially when multi-tasking.
Look for Intel’s Core Duo, Core 2 Duo, and Core 2 Extreme for increasing computing power. Low-end laptops offer Intel’s Celeron M processor, which is slower.
4. Playing Games
This is only really important if you want to play games. If so, make sure your notebook has memory dedicated to graphics use. To get good quality and performance gamers need 3D graphics chips and at least 512MB of dedicated graphics memory.
5. Screen Size and Quality Matter
There’s a huge choice of screen size and resolution, so how big is your bag? Do you work on spreadsheets or want to watch movies in widescreen? Is it important to view documents side by side
The screen size is measured by the diagonal measurement. The bigger the screen, the higher the maximum resolution and the more information you can view at once.
Ultraportable notebooks go up to 13.3 inches and laptops usually vary from 13.3 inches to 17 inches. A good standard is a 16 inch screen with 1920 by 1080 pixel resolution.
You’ll enjoy movies and photo editing with higher resolutions.
Consider what sort of work you will be doing. Long periods dealing with spreadsheets and word processing will be easier on your eyes with a larger high resolution screen.
Check you can see text and photos clearly inside and in daylight. Some screens look really sharp inside, but are very hard to read in daylight. If you work outside or like to work in your local coffee shop make sure the screen is readable and not too reflective.
7. Elephant or Fish Memory?
Hard drives store the data you keep on your computer. If you want to store photos, video files, spreadsheets and databases, then choose a large drive. You should get at least 80GB and can go as high as 120GB or 160GB.
Check the speed of the hard drive too. Most offer 5400 rpm, but 7200rpm will give a better performance with data intensive tasks.
8. Music and Camera Connections
If you want to use a wireless mouse, connect to your iPod or download photos from your digital camera you’ll need a USB port. Look for at least 2 USB ports and 1 Firewire connection.
9. How Long Before the Battery Dies?
You can guarantee that you’ll never be able to operate your notebook computer for as long as the manufacturer claims. So be skeptical when you check battery life. Claims vary from 1.3 to 12 hours.
10. Are Your Fingers Too Big?
More likely is the keyboard too small. Check this out and the mouse-pad or pointing device. There’s nothing more frustrating than tiny keys. Get a mini-mouse, you’ll thank me.
11. Light Weight or Dead Weight?
I’m sure my shoulders are uneven because I’ve been weight-training with a laptop. If you’re mobile and you’ll be carrying your notebook a lot then test the weight. It might seem OK but will you still think so after a long day?
Remember to include the AC adapter, any extra batteries and cables. They add to the weight.
I bought a docking station for my desk, so I can leave my cables and portable mouse in my bag. I hated all that unplugging and reconnecting.
12. Wireless and Bluetooth
A built in wireless capability means you can connect to the internet from just about anywhere. And Bluetooth means you can quickly share information with your phone and other devices.
Looks aren’t everything, but those black boxes just look so dull. Check out some of the stylish options.
14. Backing up
Some laptops have DVD burners to back up documents, photos and music files. I prefer to use a USB Flash Drive.
15. Protect Your Notebook
Too many of my friends have had their notebooks stolen. The stress and heartache is terrible. Look at anti-theft devices.